The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Timothy Liu

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Timothy Liu PixLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I like moving words around on the page/screen to see what kinds of energies can get released.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I’m making final corrections on my first hybrid novel, KINGDOM COME. I’ve also started my second hybrid novel called PARAMOUR. I am interested in the kinds of energies that can get released through initial drafts of 70,000 to 100,000 words, a domain vastly different from the lyric poems I continue to write.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Frank O’Hara said, “Go on your nerve.” That sounds about right.

Who are your favorite authors?

Lately, the writings of Pema Chodron, Adam Phillips, and Martin Shaw have been on my mind.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.

The most challenging piece is usually whatever is coming into being. Staying in the newness of the unknown, watching it unfold.

What’s your idea of bliss?

Ecstatic union with a beloved.

What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?

As a fan of export Chinese porcelain and Limoges china, nothing gets me so angry that I’d want to smash up any of that.

What book/s would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?

I’ve just picked up a volume of Kabir translated by Vinay Dharwadker published in India as a Penguin Classics paperback printed on paper exquisite to the touch. It’s called THE WEAVER’S SONGS. Have only skimmed it but am packing it in my bags as I get ready to hop on a plane tomorrow.

Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you?

My husband. Then my cat.

Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.

Less shoulds.

Author Biography:

Timothy Liu is the author of nine books of poems, most recently Don’t Go Back To Sleep. Widely published, his poems have been translated into ten languages, and his journals and papers are archived at the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library. He lives in Manhattan with his husband. Read more at